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Vincent Ferrini

American Craftsman

Part II

Biography by Heidi Ferrini


This article is in two parts: Click here for Part I

Vincent Ferrini was born on April 24, 1933 in Brockton Massachusetts into a large and boisterous extended Italian family. His mother, Vera di Salle and her sister Iola, married two brothers, James and Ralph Ferrini. The family owned and ran a bakery in town so Vincent and his older sister Devia grew up with their many cousins in a work ethic atmosphere of making and baking, and spent many hours during their high school years kneading dough, making pizzas, and delivering bread.

Vincent was an introspective boy and spent much time observing life and nature around him. He often roamed the Audubon property abutting his parentsí home and here the seed of inspiration for an artistic career may have given birth. He also drew and modeled clay and showed artistic tendencies throughout high school, participating in theatre design and flyers/programs for plays etc., played the saxophone with the school band and sang in the choral society.

A family member and alumnus of The Museum School in Boston recommended that Vincent apply, and it was there that he became enthusiastic about metal and its possibilities. He simultaneously studied Education at Tufts University, graduating with a teaching degree in 1956.

First student piece brooch, 1951

 Sugar and creamer, 1952

sterling silver.

Hinged  bracelet, 1953

sterling silver and jade

Herkimer Brooch, 1954

14k gold, naturally occurring diamond crystal

Salad set, 1954

sterling silver, walnut
forged with seamed ferrules

Demitasse Coffee Set,1955
sterling silver, teak

Fluted Compote, 1955

sterling silver

Prize winning candlesticks,1959

sterling silver

Salt & Pepper Set, 1959

sterling silver

Cigarette box, 1959 

After spending 2 years in the military in Germany, Vincent returned home for a post-graduate year at The Museum School, receiving a Traveling Scholarship that enabled him to return to Europe and specifically Scandinavia, in pursuit of the Danish design sensibility. Four years teaching art at Brockton High School was followed by graduate school at RIT, School for American Craftsmen and an MFA in Silversmithing and Jewelry in 1964. He taught and lectured for three decades thereafter, mostly at Boston Universityís School for the Arts from 1964 to 1984.

Covered Dish, 1964

Heidi's Engagement Ring, 1964

 gold, diamond

Vincent Ferriniís career in the field of fine craft has spanned fifty years to date. His commitment to the fine and plastic arts is evident in his drawings, 2-D & 3-D designs and many major works in metal, both hollowware and jewelry.


Early photo of Vincent Ferrini with Walter Herbst and Mrs Vandberbilt Webb

He was also fortunate in receiving invitations to teach abroad, enjoying guest positions in Great Britain, Australia and Jamaica. In 1974-75, while on sabbatical leave from his post as Associate Professor of Art at Boston University School for the Arts, he traveled to England as a guest of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths (one of the oldest continuous craft guilds in Europe). There he toured as visiting artist and guest lecturer at several schools and colleges, including Sir John Cass College of Art and The Royal College of Art in London. His relationship with the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths culminated with another invitation to London in 1988 to be formally inducted into the Company as a "Fellow", an honor he cherishes.

Eye of Horus Neckpiece, 1974
blue opal, sterling silver,14k gold, natural faceted crystal, Plexiglas collar

Blue Opal Celtic Brooch, 1974

 gold, moonstone, amethyst, opal

Moon Crystal Ring, 1974

4k white gold 18k yellow gold, moon crystal

In 1975, upon returning from sabbatical leave in England, he joined the faculty of the Boston University Program in Artisanry as an Adjunct Professor in Design and Metals and remained in that post until 1983. It was also in 1983 that he was honored to have a major thirty-year retrospective exhibition at The Fuller Museum of Art in Brockton, MA, whose National Endowment for the Arts grant led to sponsoring his exhibition. The Fuller also purchased Vincentís unique sterling and bronze striped tea service for itís permanent collection.

Thirty-year Retrospective Show - Fuller Craft Museum, 1983

Ferrini Retrospective Catalog Cover, 1983

 Brockton, Massachusetts

Thirty-year Retrospective Show - Fuller Craft Museum, 1983

In 1984 he left Boston University to establish the now well-known custom jewelry studio and gallery, Goldsmiths 3 in Concord, MA. He and his business partners, John Reynolds and Robert Fairbank, are proud of the fact that they more than survived for twenty years in the community, even owning their own historic building in Concord.

Goldsmiths 3 Building

Goldsmiths 3 Interior Jewelry Showcase,1990

Making oneís entire living from oneís craft was one of the oft-stated goals of the Program in Artisanry. This recognition of Vincentís work ethic can be seen in the 2005 Penland Book of Jewelry, where artist Jaime Pelissier acknowledges Vincentís "keen sense of design and business, as well as outstanding craftsmanship." He goes on to say that "Vincent is the freest of us all. His work is motion and fantasy of line, organic, and always changing. He has never been afraid to break the standards. He doesnít follow patterns and is always exploring new approaches with fascinating and sometimes whimsical results."

For Goldsmiths 3ís much celebrated 20th anniversary, Vincent produced a collection of 20 brooches of silver, silver and gold, and high-karat gold with gemstones in colors and textures which were inspired by the "Colors of the Sierra", in reference to the unique colors of the California Sierra Nevada Mountains where Vincent and his wife Heidi had "retired" to be near their children and grandchildren. Here they enjoyed designing a unique house and studios up high on a ridge with splendid views, which continued to inspire their art.

Sierra Snowmelt Brooch, 2002

 sterling silver,18k gold,  turquoise, rutilated quartz

Brooch and Earrings

18k gold, turquoise

Noon At The Mine, 2002

  sterling silver 18k gold, agate, citrine, green garden stone tiger eye

As an example, Vincentís three "Manzanita Boxes" in sterling and agate, mounted on a brushed stainless-steel tray were inspired by the form and smooth bark texture of the Manzanita, an ubiquitous native shrub. Newly apparent was his willingness to allow quite literal organic influences, such as leaf forms, to appear in his work.

Vincentís jewelry and sterling hollowware have been exhibited widely both at home and abroad. He is the recipient of numerous awards for design and excellence in craftsmanship and his works reside in private and public collections. He has always enjoyed doing unique commissions, willingly incorporating his clientís ideas and fantasies with his own.

Ever mindful of the value of experience and from a desire to "give something back", Vincent, in 2002, accepted a seat on the Board of Directors of the Central Sierra Arts Council which fosters the visual arts, the hand-crafted arts, music and theater for Sonora and Tuolumne County, California.

On the move again, in 2004, Vincent and Heidi with daughter Nicola, her husband Peter Schifrin and their three children bought a lovely farm not far from San Francisco. The closer proximity to more urban activities coupled with more than adequate studio buildings for this family of artists is proving to be close to ideal. Additionally, their son Martin, with daughter Lola, lives nearby in Petaluma, providing further justification for the move.

An example of the kind of interaction made possible by residing closer to an urban center is a lecture Vincent gave as part of the Guest Artist Series at the San Francisco Academy of Art University, School of Fine Art and Sculpture. His lecture and discussion in March of 2007 was entitled "Living and Creating in the World as a Metalsmith." The students were particularly interested in the wide variety of jewelry and sculptural metals pieces Vincent and the other principals of Goldsmiths 3 created over a period of more than twenty years. By popular request from the students, Vincent was invited back to conduct a 4-day intensive workshop of seaming and raising techniques.

In the fall of 2011, Vincent exhibited in a scholarly show called "Crafting Modernism: Mid-Century American Art and Design" at the Museum of Art and Design in New York, followed by further exposure at the Memorial Art Gallery at Rochester Institute of Technology. The exhibition was primarily about the American Studio Movement from post World War II to 1969, and provided insight into the explosive emergence of craft media, which ultimately led to the recognition of its place alongside the "fine arts".

Vincent Ferrini, 2011

In the spring of 2012, Vincent was re-united with his "masterpiece" (the final work supporting his thesis on "Enameling on Silver") that mysteriously disappeared from RIT for 48 years. He was stunned to have found the silver compote, embellished with champleve enamel medallions around its base, with a plique-a-jour finial on the lid again after so many years. Perhaps its re-appearance symbolizes the "coming full circle" of Vincentís long and fruitful career and is a reminder that good design and craftsmanship is enduring.

Ferrini Reunited with His Long Lost Compote, 2012

These days, one finds Vincent involved in gardening and overseeing the myriad tasks associated with living on a compound (harvesting abundant fruit trees, as well as olive trees, planting, pruning). He has also begun a series of colored pencil drawings of natural shapes that surround him in such a bucolic setting, including leaves, flowers, fruit and seeds, all selected for their unusual textures or colors. The warmth of family, children and grandchildren, surround him with love as he reciprocates with the sage words and deeds of a compassionate Italian "padrone."


Thanks to:

Vincent and Heidi Ferrini for their generous permission to reproduce the many photographs of Vincent's work over the years that are included in this article. Thank you also to Heidi Ferrini for her biography of her husband Vincent. The Ferrinis can be contacted directly at

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Article by Heidi Ferrini

Photographs courtesy of Heidi Ferrini

Web Design by Marbeth Schon

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